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Update October 2017


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Update October 14 - 15 , 2017

Nation marks 1 year since king's death with prayers, ceremony

Mourners pay respects in front of a portrait of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Friday, Oct. 13. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

A woman pays respects in front of a portrait of the late King in Bangkok, Friday, Oct. 13. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Thais marked one year since the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol with formal ceremonies and acts of personal devotion before an elaborate five-day funeral later this month. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Elephants doused in powder to appear an auspicious white, stand to attention and trumpet at a ceremony to mark one year since His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death Friday, Oct. 13, in the ancient royal capital Ayuttahya. (AP Photo)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Bangkok (AP) — Thailand marked one year since the death of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej with solemn ceremonies and acts of personal devotion Friday before an elaborate five-day funeral later this month.

Official commemorations of King Bhumibol were organized at Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital, where he died, and at Government House and the ornate royal palace. But many ordinary people showed their respects on the streets, at neighborhood markets and temples, kneeling before orange-robed monks to perform a Buddhist merit-making ritual.

"You see his achievements on TV sometimes, but now that he has passed we are learning about so many other things he has done for the country," said Panicha Nuapho, 66, who travelled from a province 330 kilometers north of Bangkok to pay respects at Siriraj Hospital. "This is my final send-off," she said, weeping.

Outside the hospital, mourners clad in black offered alms to a long procession of Buddhist monks and several thousand packed its grounds, joining nurses and doctors in prayers as monks chanted over loudspeakers.

More than 12 million people, or nearly a fifth of Thailand's population, have visited the palace throne hall where the King's body has been kept for the past year.

The government asked members of the public to observe 89 seconds of silence Friday at 3.52 p.m., marking the official time of King Bhumibol's death in what was his 89th year.

At the same time, nine elephants powdered an auspicious white knelt with their handlers in the ancient royal capital Ayutthaya outside of Bangkok.

The reigning monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarankun knelt before a portrait of the late King and Queen Sirikit at Dusit Palace and will preside over merit-making ceremonies on Friday and Saturday. Many people flocked to the palace area and left flowers beneath a giant portrait of King Bhumibol.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, accompanied by his wife Naraporn Chan-o-cha and members of the cabinet, attended a chanting ceremony and offered food to 89 monks in front of the Santi Maitree Building at Government House. Representatives from various government agencies and press members also took part in the religious ceremony.


Bhutanese King, Queen to attend royal cremation

NNT

Bangkok - The Bhutanese royal family will attend the royal cremation ceremony of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Bhutanese Royal Household Bureau has announced that His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Her Majesty Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck will attend the royal cremation ceremony on October 26.

His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has fostered a close relationship with the Thai royal family, and once said that the late King was a role model for national development.

His Majesty King Jigme was one of the royal guests during the celebrations of the diamond jubilee of the late King in 2006. Since then, the Bhutanese King has made a positive impression on many Thai people, because of his elegance and demeanor.

His Majesty King Jigme has also led his royal family and the people of Bhutan in holding prayers and candle vigils to mourn for the late King of Thailand.


Exhibition after the Royal Cremation Ceremony to be held 2-30 Nov.

NNT

Bangkok – A meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn was held Friday to discuss the organization of an exhibition in remembrance of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Minister of Culture Vira Rojpojchanarat announced that the exhibition will be held from 2nd to 30th November at the Royal Crematorium and supplementary structures at Sanam Luang ceremonial grounds in Bangkok.

The exhibition will be open to the general public between 7.00 am to 10.00 pm, which allows entry for 5000 persons in each round for 1 hour. It is expected that each day more than 100,000 people will visit the exhibition; leading to a total of 3 million visitors overall. The government is to provide free shuttle buses on six routes from Victory Monument, Hua Lamphong, around Rattanakosin Island, Ekkamai, Southern Bus terminal and Morchit to facilitate access for visitors.

The exhibition, at the Royal Merit-Making Pavilion, or Phra Thinang Song Tham, will feature His Majesty King Bhumibol’s biography and royally initiated projects. At the Government Officials’ Pavilions, or Sala Luk Khun, the exhibition will illustrate the construction of the Royal Crematorium, the renovation of royal chariots and palanquins, as well as the inclusion of architectural works and artistic creations. During the exhibition period, cultural shows will be performed between 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm.


Flooding still rampant in north and central regions

NNT

Chiang Mai – Areas of the north and central region have continued to face flood conditions with runoff hitting 2 districts of Chiang Mai province, damaging a school and severing roadways.

Up to 15 buildings of Panya Den International School in Chiang Mai province have been inundated by flood waters with damages to equipment and supplies estimated at no less than 40 million baht in value.

Chiang Mai Governor Pawin Chamniprasas is leading relief efforts and ordered urgent aid for all those impacted with the situation.

In Phayao province, the Ping River has burst through a flood barricade in Muang district and flooded local crops. The 34th Military Circle has responded to the deluge and dispatched soldiers to aid in repairs.

Local reservoirs have been reported as holding 76 million cubic meters of water despite a maximum capacity of 33.8 million. Nonetheless, it is expected that if rains taper off the situation will return to normal soon. Phayao Governor Prajon Prachayasakul has led the passing out of necessity items to those affected by flooding.

In Pakkret municipality of Nonthaburi province, authorities are setting up flood barriers following reports that waters have begun to make their way into schools of the area.
 


Update October 13, 2017

Air Force to set up anti-drone stations during royal funeral

NNT

Bangkok - The Air Force has established an anti-drone center to control aerial activity above Sanam Luang during the royal funeral.

Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Air Force, ACM Johm Rungswang, said that the air force will collaborate with other authorities to establish the anti-drone center, deploying its officers and equipment around Sanam Luang.

Earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand announced a ban on drones within a 19-kilometer radius of the Grand Palace and Sanam Luang from October 25 to 29. Only drones used by the center for security purposes will be allowed within the area. Violators are subject to a maximum fine of 40,000 baht, a maximum prison sentence of one year, or both.

On October 11, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission announced that all drone owners must register their drones within 60 days or face a maximum fine of 100,000 baht, a maximum prison sentence of five years, or both.


Home of former Buddhism Office director searched after suspected of graft

NNT

Bangkok – Police and Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) agents have jointly conducted a search of a mansion owned by a former director of the National Office Buddhism after receiving a tip off that the home may contain assets acquired with money corruptly gained.

Agents on Thursday searched the home of Pattarawan Benjawattananan, the wife of Nopparat Benjawattanan, a former director of the National Office of Buddhism and a suspect in the temple funds corruption case.

Pol Maj Gen Romsit Wiriyasan told reporters that the home was purchased in 2016 for 49 million baht during Nopparat’s time in office and was originally under his name. He indicated it is very likely that the home was purchased using ill-gotten gains from 12 state temples.

The search turned up 2 large safes that have been taken in for further investigation alongside special decorations bestowed upon Nopparat and important documents. Police noted reports that a truck had earlier removed some amount of assets from the home.


Lopburi flood gate bursts as deluge continues across country

NNT

Lopburi – Incessant rainfall caused the Chai Nat-Pa Sak flood gate to succumb to high water pressure on Thursday and sent a deluge into nearby villages.  Authorities had to set up big bag barriers to protect some 9,000 rai of rice farms from inundation, with concerns also growing over water levels downstream from the Chao Phraya Dam.

Water from the north passing through Nakhon Sawan province has begun to threaten areas of Chai Nat, Singburi, Ang Thong and Ayuthaya where waterways have risen 40-50 centimeters, threatening residents.

Authorities placed concrete blocks outside Wat Chaiyoworawiharn to allow citizens to board and disembark from boats as the water line has risen 15-20 centimeters. Beams have also been planted in the area to fend off erosion by the river.

Governor of Nonthaburi, Panu Yamsri, on Thursday led an inspection of 15 communities hit by flood waters, ordering close care for citizens and saying that more water pumps must be installed.

Royal Thai Army Commander, Gen Chalermchai Sittisat said that the Prime Minister had ordered the army to provide assistance to flood victims and that his own inspection of Ayutthaya had found the situation likely to worsen. Nevertheless, he is confident the waters will subside in two weeks.

In Bangkok, Deputy City Clerk Sompong Wiengkaew said that despite continual rains, the Chao Phraya River has not yet become a cause for concern except for communities outside flood barriers. The capital meanwhile, has prepared 300,000 sandbags to shore up defences.


Interpol requests information to draft Blue Notice for ex-premier

 

NNT

Bangkok – Interpol has requested additional information as it considers issuing a Blue Notice for former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The ex-premier is wanted after the Supreme Court handed down a guilty verdict in a dereliction of duty charge stemming from her administration’s rice pledging scheme. The former Prime Minister absented herself on the day of the verdict and has not been in contact since.

Most recently, Interpol has responded to a request for assistance from the Royal Thai Police, asking for additional information to be used in issuing a Blue Notice for Yingluck, which would pave the way towards a Red Notice.

The force has already indicated that once the definite location of the former premier is identified it will inform Thailand’s Attorney General so that the office may seek her extradition.

Interpol agents operating in Thailand have assured authorities they are making every effort to locate and return Yingluck to the Kingdom and are following all protocols used in such cases with no special treatment or consideration.


Update October 12, 2017

Custom officers seize rhino horns, arrests suspected smugglers

A collection of seized rhino horns are shown on display in Bangkok, Wednesday, Oct. 11. (Royal Thai Customs via AP)

Associated Press

Bangkok — Thai authorities have arrested two Chinese citizens suspected of smuggling rhinoceros horns worth about US$300,000 through Bangkok's main airport.

The eight rhino horns weighing a total of 6.2 kilograms were discovered Tuesday when airport security X-rayed the suspects' baggage.

The Customs Department said Wednesday that the two men were headed to Cambodia after a flight from Zambia that stopped in Addis Ababa and Bangkok.

Horns, blood, skin and urine from endangered rhinoceroses are in high demand across Asia for their use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Thai authorities say they have seized 38 rhinoceros horns worth over $6 million in three cases over the past four years.

The suspects face charges of violating customs and wildlife protection laws.

Customs Department Director-General Kulit Sombatsiri said the seized rhino horns could fetch $300,000 in Thailand and even more abroad.


Uthai Thani launches aerial surveillance over encroached wildlife sanctuary

NNT

Uthai Thani – Uthai Thani province has conducted aerial surveillance over Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary in the face of reported encroachment and lumberjacking.

Provincial Governor of Uthai Thani, Manrat Ratsukon, ordered for the aerial inspection aboard a helicopter of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) in search for any forest encroachment in the wildlife sanctuary, following reports of tens of thousands of rai of land being trespassed by lumberjacks.

The aerial surveillance found 75 logs of Aquilaria trees, weighing about two tons each. The evidence allegedly involved a group of Vietnamese lumberjacks illegally felling trees in the sanctuary in July and August. Aquilaria wood sells for as much as 10,000 baht per kilogram.


Thai private sector starts using biometric authentication system

NNT

Bangkok - A member of the Thai private sector has integrated a biometric authentication system into its transactions, as part of the Thailand 4.0 approach.

The move was made by Krungthai Card Public Company Limited (KTC) which has revamped its mobile application and implemented a login system that supports iris scanners and fingerprint readers.

The new banking application “TapKTC” makes Thailand the first nation in Southeast Asia and the third country in the world to adopt such technology.

KTC’s Vice President of the Credit Card Business Division, Tosapong Rangkawara explained that the revamp of the company’s banking mobile application supports the use of credit cards in an environment where technology is moving at a fast pace. The CEO said that the new application makes it easy to withdraw cash or check the balance, remaining credit, and accumulated credit card spending points.

In addition, he said that the company is awaiting approval from the Bank of Thailand before it can implement a method that processes payments by using scanners that read the QR Code on a credit card. The service is expected to come online at the end of this year.


Villagers protest mining concession over health concerns

NNT

Phrae - Villagers in Phrae northern Thailand are protesting the issuance of a concession to a private mining company, over concerns for their health and the environment.

Residents of Saiyoi sub-district in Phrae province submitted a letter to provincial governor Pongrat Piromrat stating their protest against Sakdaporn Industry Co Ltd and S Power Oil Group who have received permission to mine for basalt in the area of their communities.

The villagers state in the letter that the area to be mined is a forest preserve and water source, and that mining there would taint the environment and likely have an impact on the health of residents.

The governor assured the villagers that the concession is still only at the request stage and that evaluations will have to be carried out before any agreements are made.  He noted a public forum will also be held among communities living in a 3-kilometer radius of the mine site, to ensure their opinions are heard and that the Minister of Industry himself is overseeing the process.  He assured the villagers concerned that they would be kept up to date on progress in the matter.


Update October 11, 2017

PM promises elections in late 2018

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Associated Press

Bangkok — The Prime Minister on Tuesday promised that a general election will be held in November next year.

PM Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters that his government will give the exact election date in mid-2018.

"Around June 2018, we will announce an election date," he said. "And around November, we will hold the elections."

Prayuth said the government will consider lifting a ban on political activities but not until after October this year, while the nation is still in a period of mourning and conducting the funeral rites for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died nearly a year ago.

The PM warned political parties against campaigning and said any breaches could result in the ban on political activities being prolonged.

"This month of October is a period of mourning for us so please let everything be well-ordered and peaceful for now," Prayuth said.


Government spokesman says water management effective

Bangkok (NNT) –Spokesman, Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd says that the government has been effective in its management of water in the recent period of harsh weather, with floods not impacting any economic zones and monkey cheek retention areas used to handle excess inundation.

Speaking on an episode of "Thailand Moves Forward", the acting director-general of the Public Relations Department said that the Prime Minister has insisted that the public be kept informed of the situation and the government's approaches, acknowledging that awareness is the most important tool in coping with floods. He urged cooperation from all parties to carry out government action in response to flooding and erratic weather. He also noted that the public should now be thinking of storing water for use during the dry season, as there are no more reservoirs planned.

The spokesman added that, while approaches to handling flooding from excessive rain may differ from region to region, the government is providing assistance equally to all, with no particular emphasis on protecting Bangkok or any other individual city.

On the same program, Director-General of the Meteorological Department Wanchai Sakudomchai explained that a monsoon is currently passing over the central region and bringing heavy rain to much of the country. He said, with other weather systems also creating rain clouds, the country can expect downpours into the third week of October.

Meanwhile, Director-General of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Chaiyaphol Thitisak, confirmed that his office stands ready to respond as the situation demands and has been keeping the public aware. He called on citizens to follow state announcements and be prepared to act if necessary


Land transport dept plans to give all bus terminals major facelift

 

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Land Transport will soon start to update bus terminals nationwide to bring them up to modern standards for passengers. The renovation will be piloted in five bus terminals next year.

The department on Tuesday organized a public hearing on its master plan to develop bus terminals nationwide for a period of 20 years. The plan entails building renovation, traffic management in connection with other transportation systems and an increase in facilities. The piloted five bus terminals include Mo Chit, Rayong, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai and Songkhla. Their completion deadline is March 2018.

The department will gradually survey a further 118 bus terminals for development in the next phase.

Regarding the relocation of the Mo Chit bus terminal to a parking lot next to the Mo Chit electric train station, Deputy Director-General of the department Cherdchai Sanansrisakhon said the department is reviewing details of the construction which will likely take place next year. Short-distance buses will start from the Bang Sue central station and pick up passengers at the new bus terminal using an elevated road. This route will not affect traffic in the area as the elevated road is directly connected with the Don Mueang tollway, said Cherdchai.


Thailand lauded for being Asia's best in non-communicable disease control

NNT

Nakhon Pathom - Thailand has been praised by the World Health Organization for being the best country in Asia in non-communicable chronic disease management.

Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn is currently presiding over a WHO-SEAR Regional Forum from 9 to 11 October at Sampran Garden in Nakhon Pathom.  Some 130 delegates from 11 countries are participating in the forum which aims to enhance the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by reducing certain key risk factors.

The minister said NCDs are considered an urgent crisis which needs to be addressed on both the national and international level as they cause up to 16 million premature deaths each year globally from heart and lung diseases, strokes, cancers, and diabetes, while up to 80 percent of casualties come from low to medium-income countries, particularly in the South and Southeast Asian regions.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include an objective to cut down deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030, which will require cooperation from all sides, especially local organizations which are the closest to the general public.

The WHO gave Thailand 12 out of 19 points on the NCDs management, which is 8 points higher than 2015. This makes Thailand the best country in Asia for NCDs management, and on a par with Finland and Norway.


Update October 10, 2017

PM satisfied with elimination of zero-dollar tours

NNT

Bangkok – The Prime Minister says he is satisfied with operations to eradicate zero-dollar tours in Thailand and has urged government officials to adhere to regulations without discrimination and improve tourist services.

The premier acknowledged a report on the operations against the zero-dollar tours and expressed his satisfaction to government agencies, particularly those responsible for the prosecution of 29 companies who allegedly violated the Tourism Business and Guide Act B.E. 2551, and the Trade Competition Act B.E. 2542.

He urged officials to proceed with the cases according to evidence and uphold the country's interests in order to contain any damage to its tourism economy, restore its image and refrain from discriminating any specific group of people.

The operations will be extended in a bid to prosecute all others who may be allegedly involved in such zero-dollar tours.

The government has taken into account complaints from tourists, including the Chinese, in order to address problems such as false promises for services, the refunding claims, and forced purchases of certain products or services.

The China National Tourist Office in Thailand (CNTO) has taken Thailand's approach against illegal tour operators as a model for other countries, and given cooperation with Thai authorities in the checking of the quality of Chinese tour companies.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Thailand has welcomed 2.7 million more tourists during 2016-2017, and gained five billion US dollars more in tourism-related revenue, which is the third highest globally after only the United States and Spain.


85-year old man faces prison for doubting ancient king story

Social critic Sulak Sivaraksa talks to reporters at a police station before going to a military court in Bangkok, Monday, Oct. 9. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Associated Press

Bangkok — An 85-year-old social critic faces up to 15 years in prison after questioning whether a duel on elephant-back, fought more than 400 years ago by a Thai king against a Burmese adversary, ever took place.

Police escorted Sulak Sivaraksa to a Bangkok military court on Monday where he was officially charged with insulting the monarchy.

The case stems from remarks Sulak made in 2014 when he told a public forum to think critically about Thai history and questioned whether renowned monarch King Naraesuan had really won the Battle of Nong Sarai in 1593 by defeating a Burmese prince in solo combat, mounted on a war elephant.

Sulak, who walks with the aid of a cane, said he had no idea why the case was going ahead now, so long after his speech.

"Perhaps they don't like me because I never close my mouth," he said. "I speak the truth. I believe in the Quakers: speaking truth to power. I think it is my duty."

The lese majeste doesn't appear to mention dead monarchs, but in practice the rules are often more widely interpreted.

Sulak's lawyer, Puangtip Boonsanong, said it was "up to each individual's interpretation" over whether dead kings were protected by the lese majeste law.

Puangtip said Sulak would fight the charges against him. He is scheduled for another meeting with prosecutors Dec. 7.


NLA hears complaints from sea gypsies of Phuket

Bangkok - The National Legislative Assembly has received a complaint related to land ownership from sea gypsies in Phuket.

First Vice President of the NLA, Surachai Liengboonlertchai on Monday met with representatives of the Rawai sea gypsy community, who presented him with a petition concerning their problems related to land ownership in the area.

The sea gypsies say that they have filed similar complaints many times but they have apparently fallen on deaf ears.

They subsequently traveled to Bangkok to submit another petition directly with the NLA to ask for an investigation into the Director-General of the Department of Land for his inaction about the land rights documents that cover the area where the Rawai sea gypsies have been living.

They also asked the NLA to inform the government that their problems have not been solved after an earlier TV report claimed the land dispute had been settled and requested an amendment of the Act Promulgating the Land Code B.E. 2497 to make sure the Director-General of the Department of Land will never abuse his or her power in revoking any land rights documents without legitimate reason.

Surachai assured the delegation that the NLA has been following up the issues all along and will send the committee in charge of these matters to look into them again.


Employers warned not to hire migrant workers as shop attendants

 

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Labor has warned vegetable and fruit vendors not to hire migrant workers to work as shop attendants, as it is one of the occupations reserved for Thais only according to the law.

Employment Department Director General Waranon Pitiwan made the comment after reports emerged that a number of Lao, Cambodian and Myanmar migrant workers are selling fruit and vegetables at Si Mum Muang market, Thailand's largest fresh fruit and vegetable wholesale market in Pathum Thani province.

Waranon said employing migrant workers to sell at the market is considered a violation of the country's Foreign Workers Employment Act, but the penalties have been waived, following the order of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) until December 31. The labor official called on employers and migrant workers to enter the legal employment system before the end of this year.

Waranon said the Ministry of Labor is considering drafting a new law on the occupations and professions prohibited to migrant workers.


Inmates moved to new Chonburi Central Prison

NNT

Chonburi - Inmates of Chonburi Central Prison have been transported to the province’s new central penitentiary located in Baan Bueng district.

Chonburi Governor Pakkaratorn Thianchai oversaw the transfer ceremony following the Department of Corrections approval of the establishment of a new central prison for Chonburi province. The former central prison is to be converted into a women’s prison and the facility will serve as the site for a new Chonburi city shrine.

The Baan Bueng location, which is the new Central Prison of Chonburi, was recently announced in the Royal Gazette, officially declaring it as a correctional facility.

Chonburi Central Prison houses a total 5,735 inmates. Previously 5,338 had been relocated to the new facility. The latest ceremony was to conclude the move and transport the final group of 397 inmates. The process was aided by the 14th Military Circle, the 21st Infantry Royal Guard, Chonburi Reserves Command, Provincial Police Region 2, Highway Police, the Dhamma Rasamee Maneerat Rescue Foundation and officials from the Department of Corrections.


Update October 9, 2017

Ayutthaya braces itself for more floods amid torrential rain

NNT

Ayutthaya - Residents in low-lying areas of Ayutthaya province have been told to brace themselves for a new round of floods as the Royal Irrigation Department is preparing to release water downstream.

Consecutive days of torrential rain have prompted the Royal Irrigation Department to adjust the water discharge rate to 1,783 cubic meters per second. As a result, the water levels downstream have surged, inundating large areas of Ayutthaya especially communities flanking the Chao Phraya and the Noi River.

Relevant agencies have issued disaster warnings to the districts of Phak Hai, Sena and Bang Bal where a number of community constructions such as temples and schools have already been flooded. Villagers now have to travel by boat.

Waterfront residents have been advised to move their belongings to higher ground and keep their boats at hand in the event of a heavy flood. Municipal officials are on patrol at different risk-prone neighborhoods to help the people and ensure their safety.


CDC believes lawmakers won't delay election

 

CDC chairman Meechai Ruchuphan.

NNT

Bangkok - The Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) believes the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) will not delay the next general election.

CDC chairman Meechai Ruchuphan said Sunday the charter drafting committee is currently working on the two organic bills pertaining to Members of Parliament and members of the Senate. The chairman expects the drafting process to be completed no later than November after which the bills will be presented to the legislature for review.

Meechai expressed his belief that the lawmakers won't turn down the two draft acts which would have the effect of postponing the general election, adding that whether or not drastic changes to the bills are proposed, is up to the legislative assembly.

Meechai also denied allegations that the government is attempting to cause a delay in the election or attempting to stay in power, noting that everyone including Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha is tired of answering such questions.


Red flag for Thailand's aviation industry removed from ICAO website?

NNT

Bangkok - The red flag icon which indicates aviation security concerns has been reportedly removed from Thailand on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) website, while the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand is seeking to verify the positive readjustment of the country's status.

The red flag icon has been removed along with Thailand's name on the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) list on the ICAO website www.icao.int. It was considered a positive move for Thailand which had been previously given the red-flag due to significant security concerns from the ICAO.

CAAT Director-General Chula Sukmanop said the CAAT is in the process of verifying the reports with the ICAO before making comments.

Should Thailand have the status of security concerns lifted, the country will regain recognition in the aviation global community, allowing Thai-registered airlines to open new routes to more destinations, and help with the travel industry, he said.


Gem and Jewelry Institute to push Thailand as trade hub by 2021

NNT

Bangkok - The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand has unveiled its strategy for 2018, which aims to boost international consumer confidence by adhering to global standards and by turning Thailand into a global hub of gems and jewelry trade by 2021.

Director of the Institute, Duangkamol Jiambutr, said his organization will make use of its internationally certified laboratory to guarantee the purity of precious metals.

The institute will also support local industries in 15 provinces to enhance product quality and variety. In addition, it will help to expand sales channels by introducing online platforms and coordinating with the Department of International Trade Promotion to penetrate new markets.

The Gem and Jewelry Institute plans to host the congress of the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO Congress) in November to strengthen Thailand's role as a global hub of the gemstone and jewelry trade.


Update October 7- 8, 2017

New warrant issued for ex-PM Yingluck

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Bangkok – A new warrant for the arrest of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been issued. The warrant charges Yingluck with “entering and exiting the Kingdom via unofficial means”. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refused to comment regarding Yingluck's widely reported request for asylum in another country. The MOFA simply stated that it was within the discretion of the country receiving the asylum request.

Director General of the Department of Information and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Bussadee Santipitak, indicated that her office has received a request from police to revoke the passports of fugitive ex-premier Yingluck and has started the revocation process.

On whether or not Yingluck has received documentation to seek asylum in the United Kingdom, Bussadee said her ministry is still unable to confirm such a development but acknowledges it is within the discretion of that country.

Regarding the new warrant, Deputy Commander of the Royal Thai Police, Pol Gen Sriwara Rangsiphramnakul, stated that on October 4 the South Bangkok Criminal Court approved an additional arrest warrant for Yingluck that charges her with “entering and exiting the Kingdom via unofficial means”. The warrant follows her flight from Thailand ahead of the formal reading of the verdict in her government rice pledging scheme case. All police stations and border crossings will be briefed on the warrant.


DPM confident laws needed for general election to be drafted by year's end

NNT

Bangkok – Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister for Legal Affairs has confirmed that all 4 organic laws needed for the general election to take place will be completed by the end of this year, in line with the national development roadmap. The head of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) confirmed his body will complete its drafts by December 1.

CDC Chairman Meechai Ruchuphan has stated that the panel will finish drafting all the organic laws needed for the general election by the start of December and that, if the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) rejects them, the CDC will remain in place to redraft them. He added that, if the laws are shot down after taking effect due to a Constitution Court ruling, the CDC will reassemble to rewrite them without indicating a specific time frame.

A recently submitted law on the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) mandates that government officials at all levels must file a report on their assets to ensure transparency in their work.

NLA President, Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, stated that the assembly’s duty is to vet thoroughly all legislation and that it has no intention of needlessly delaying the general election. He asserted the NLA must ensure that all pieces of legislation conform to the constitution and are for the benefit of the public.

On the formation of a new Election Commission, Pornpetch said a selection committee is beginning the process today.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreau-ngam meanwhile, pointed out that the Constitution defines a time frame for the drafting of organic laws and necessitates that the 4 laws needed for the general election to happen be drafted within 2017. Even with the NLA’s ability to call for re-drafting of the laws, the deputy prime minister said general elections should still be able to take place by late 2018 or early 2019.


Largest dinosaur fossil yet found in Chaiyaphum

NNT

Chaiyaphum - The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has revealed the largest fossil of a herbivore dinosaur to be found in Chaiyaphum province.

According to DMR Director-General Niwat Maneekut, the long front leg and hind leg bones of a sauropod were found in Nong Bua Rawe district. Upon initial examination, the bones appear to belong to a Phuwiangosaurus Sirindhornae, one of many long-necked sauropods. The species was named in tribute to Her Royal Highness Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

Twenty more fossilized bones, believed to be from the same dinosaur, have been also found. The DMR is currently trying to turn the area in Nong Bua Rawe district into a legal research site for archaeologists. The area could potentially become a tourist site and a learning center in the future.


Floods persist in central provinces

NNT

Uthai Thani - Several days of rainfall have led to floods in several provinces in the central plain, prompting relevant agencies to issue disaster warnings to risk-prone areas.

In Uthai Thani, thunder storms and heavy rain have caused a large volume of water to overflow the spillway of Huai Khunkaew Reservoir, flooding more than 400 rai of farmland and homes in Khao Bang Kraek subdistrict. The residents have been advised to remain on alert for a new round of flooding.

In Ang Thong, the rising waters of the Noi River have overflowed into a waterfront village in Bangjak subdistrict, affecting 117 homes. Wiset Chaichan district has advised the flood-prone households to move their belongings to higher ground.

In Lop Buri, rainfall over the past three days has overwhelmed the spillway of Huai Yai Wang Khaem Reservoir, inundating homes, roads and thousands of rai of arable land in Sa Bot district.

In Nakhon Sawan, the Nakhon Sawan Provincial Irrigation Office and related agencies have sent their inspection teams to Khlong Pho Reservoir in Mae Poen district to lower the reservoir's level and to remove weeds. The operation has impaired the dam’s function, causing the water to overflow the spillway and flow into Khlong Pho. Canal-side communities are being slightly affected while maintenance is underway.


Update October 6, 2017

Mourners pay last-minute respects to HM the late King

A mourner holds a portrait of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej as she lines up to pay respects to the Royal Urn outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thursday, Oct. 5. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Bangkok (AP) — Tens of thousands of mourners have been rushing to Bangkok's Grand Palace to pay their respects to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, as a period of nearly a year for his body to lie in state ends ahead of his cremation on Oct. 26.

Since the revered monarch’s death last Oct. 13 at age 88, more than 12 million people have visited the golden Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, where his coffin is kept behind a symbolic royal urn. The hall was closed to visitors at midnight Thursday.

The throne hall has been kept open 24 hours a day since last Saturday to accommodate the high number of last-minute mourners. Officials said the palace received over 96,000 visitors Wednesday, a record number for one day.

One group of visitors said they had waited outside the palace walls from 9 p.m. Wednesday until Thursday morning. But the wait did not faze most mourners, who still feel distraught over the loss of their beloved king nearly a year after his death.

"I still can't accept it. Every time I think about this, I feel so sad," Watchiraporn Daengsomboon said as she lined up outside the palace Thursday. "Today, I've come to pay my respects for the last time. We won't have this chance again."

King Bhumibol was succeeded by his son, current King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarankun, who will preside over commemoration ceremonies on the anniversary of his father's death. That will be followed by an elaborate royal cremation ceremony from Oct. 25 to 29.

The crematorium, situated on a public field near the palace, is a representation of mystical Mount Meru, where gods reside according to Buddhist and Hindu legends.


PM receives US Senate Resolution honoring the late King

NNT

Bangkok – The Prime Minister has received a copy of the US Senate’s resolution honoring His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej as part of his trip to enhance ties between Thailand and the United States.

On the final day of his official visit to America, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha met with President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate, Orrin Hatch, at Capitol Hill to receive a copy of the house’s resolution honoring the late King for his support of Thai-US relations throughout his 70 year reign.

The PM later met with Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan and took a tour of the Rotunda dome within the building.

Leaving from the Senate, the premier chaired a discussion involving Thai investors in the US where representatives from both sides voiced readiness to cooperate in trade and to enhance US trade with Thailand and ASEAN.

Gen Prayut told the gathering that he would continue to push for stronger ties between the private sectors of Thailand and the United States on the basis of mutual benefit, calling on Thai business people to draft a new data set that better represents the country in its current state.

On the final evening of his visit, the PM attended a dinner organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council and the US Chamber of commerce in his honor. At the function, Gen Prayut voiced his appreciation of US President Donald Trump and his country for honoring Thailand in spite of its many limitations, saying that the continued good ties underline the US’ genuine friendship with Thailand. He also recommended that Thailand and the US adhere to a treaty that ensures US businesspeople have equal rights with local operators in Thailand and that its practical application would help achieve a trade goal worth 8.5 billion USD.

The PM’s final mission while in the US is to meet Thai communities before departing for Thailand.


Welfare cardholders warned not to redeem their cards for cash

NNT

Bangkok - The Comptroller General’s Department (CGD) has warned retail stores not to allow welfare cardholders to redeem their new cards for cash.

CGD Director-General Suthirat Rattanachot said there are more than six million welfare cardholders in the country. At least 400,000 of them have already spent 100 million baht on household goods at Blue Flag stores.

Suthirat said she was told by local commerce and finance officials that some of the retail stores let the cardholders redeem the cards for cash. The CGD Director-General stressed that it was not how the government intended to help people shoulder the cost of living.

The cards cannot be exchanged for cash under any circumstances. Any retail store in violation of this regulation will be removed from the list of Blue Flag stores. They must also return their electronic data capture machine immediately.

Cardholders found in violation of this rule will also have their rights to the cards revoked. They will be required to return the money they have redeemed as cash to the government.


VAT remains at 7% for one more year

NNT

Bangkok –Value-Added Tax (VAT) will remain at 7 percent at least until 30 September 2018 to help with the national economy and help keep down the cost of living for the general public.

Deputy Revenue Department Director-General Patricia Mongkhonvanit said the promulgation of a tax cut law allows for the actual collection of the 7-percent VAT rate as a normal practice to last for another year.

According to the deputy department chief, the Revenue Department is obliged to collect the VAT at 10 percent, the rate which has been reduced by the law.

More information regarding VAT can be found on www.rd.go.th. Tax-related enquiries can be made at all RD offices, or by calling Hotline 1161.


Police target 29 suspected ‘zero dollar tour’ companies

NNT

Bangkok –The police have been assembling evidence to seek charges against 29 companies involved in the business of so-called ‘zero dollar tours’.

Deputy Commander of the Royal Thai Police, Pol Gen Sriwara Rangsiphramnakul has provided evidence to the Crime Suppression Division to enable it to launch cases against the 29 businesses; operating as tour vehicle providers, retailers, tour companies, companies within the OA Transport group and Siam Gems Company. The businesses are facing charges ranging from illegal operation of a tour service to violation of competition laws.

Pol Gen Sriwara acknowledged that all the companies named are new to the zero dollar tour operation and have recently been identified by the office of the Attorney General. He gave an assurance that the move was not in retaliation against OA Transport and Siam Gems’ earlier countersuits against the state.

Sriwara also assured the operators that if those charged feel unfairly treated, they can file a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission while adding that speedy progress in the case is in line with an order from the commander of the police due to the detrimental nature of the matter.

If the 29 businesses are found to have evaded taxes they will be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Office. 


Update October 5, 2017

Police seek Interpol red notice for arrest of Yingluck

Deputy Police Commissioner Gen. Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul talks to the media in Bangkok.

NNT

Bangkok - Deputy Police Commissioner Gen. Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul is seeking an Interpol red notice to have Yingluck Shinawatra arrested.

According to Gen. Srivara, the Royal Thai Police Bureau has sought cooperation with Interpol to issue a red notice, also known as an international arrest warrant, to 192 nations worldwide for the arrest of the former prime minister.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Yingluck has already left Dubai for England. The Royal Thai Police Bureau has also informed the Office of the Attorney General of its attempt to obtain the red notice.

Once the international police organization issues the arrest warrant, police in member nations will be authorized to apprehend Yingluck.

"If Interpol can issue the red notice then authorities can proceed (with the arrest)," Srivara said, but added that he could not speak for British authorities about whether they would arrest her.

Srivara refused to comment on whether Interpol would comply with the request and issue a red notice, as there could be objections that the case against Yingluck is political in nature and she could potentially qualify for political asylum.

Police are also investigating their own officers who are suspected of having helped Yingluck flee.  At least three police officers have been questioned so far in connection with the allegations.


Thailand ready for influx of Chinese tourists during Golden Week

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is ready to welcome and accommodate an increased influx of Chinese tourists during the eight-day Golden Week holiday in China, from Oct 1-8. Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports, Pongpanu Svetarundra, said the ministry has forecast that about 260,000 Chinese tourists will visit Thailand during the Golden Week, up 35 percent from the same period last year.

Pongpanu said China's leading travel website reveals that Thailand is set to be the top attraction for Chinese tourists during this holiday period.

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the visitors from China will likely spend their vacations in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Samui Island. The tourists are expected to generate revenue of over 11 billion baht for the nation’s coffers.


Panthongtae’s attourney submits letter to DSI: Seeks end to money laundering case

Chumsai Sriyapai (right), attorney for Panthongtae Shinawatra, hands in a letter of petition to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in Bangkok.

NNT

Bangkok - The attorney to self-exiled ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s son, Panthongtae Shinawatra, has requested that the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) freeze its action against his client who is charged with money laundering, while giving an assurance that if a summons is issued he will appear before authorities.

The attorney, Chumsai Sriyapai, handed a written request to the DSI this week asking it to cease its pursuit of charges against Panthongae after the Assets Scrutiny Committee concluded he had received stolen goods.

The case stems from an earlier case of corruption involving Krung Thai Bank and its loan to the Krisada Mahanakorn Group. That case resulted in Panthongtae being called in for questioning. His attorney asserted however that there was no connection between the son of former Prime Minister Thaksin and the other parties in the matter.  As for a cheque he received from Mooban Krisada Mahanakorn project owner Wichai Krisadathanon for 10 million baht, his lawyer contended that he could not have known the funds were ill-gotten and that he himself had no intention of concealing the assets.

On DSI investigators calling Panthongtae in for questioning however, Chumsai assured the authorities that his client would appear to protest his innocence but that no summons had yet been issued.

Deputy Spokesman for the DSI, Pol Maj Woranant Srilam accepted Chumsai’s arguments for further consideration but said it will be up to investigators whether or not they freeze activity.  Responding to a request for the case to be transferred from the DSI to the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), Pol Maj Woranant explained that the office is only empowered to take civil action and is thus under-qualified for this matter.


Documented Cambodian workers return to Thailand

Workers and traders cross the Thai-Cambodia border at Aranyaprathet.

NNT

Sa Kaeo - Hundreds of Cambodian workers have returned to Thailand via Sa Kaeo province to resume working in Thailand after obtaining the correct type of passports and official papers.

The immigration checkpoint in Aranyaprathet district has seen more than 300 Cambodian nationals waiting for transportation back to their employers. Those with the required documents have been photographed before being allowed to enter the country.

One of the workers said most Cambodians were now knowledgeable about the Thai labor and employment laws and they had returned to their home country to obtain the necessary documents to secure employee benefits and safeguard themselves from unfair treatment.

Cambodian employees are much sought after in the construction industry, with prime destinations being the provinces of Prachinburi, Bangkok and Samut Prakan.


Update October 4, 2017

DNA samples to reveal if Yingluck fled country in a car

Pol Maj Gen. Thawatchai Mekprasertkul

NNT

Bangkok - The Central Police Forensic Science Division says it will reveal in a few days if the DNA of a woman found in a Toyota Camry, is that of former premier Yingluck Shinawatra who fled the country in August.

Central Police Forensic Science Division Commander, Pol Maj Gen. Thawatchai Mekprasertkul said the examination of 100 DNA samples collected at Yingluck’s home and in other places she had visited would be sufficient, adding that there is no need to collect DNA samples from her son or her relatives.

It will be revealed within two days whether the DNA found in the car matches Yingluck’s. Authorities are trying to establish if the former prime minister left the country in the alleged Toyota Camry.

Meanwhile, Deputy Spokesperson of the Royal Thai Police Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen said Thailand is seeking cooperation from the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) in regard to Yingluck’s whereabouts.

The three police officers believed to have been involved in transporting Yingluck to the border are being investigated. The investigation will conclude in 60 days.


Drones to be prohibited during royal cremation ceremony

NNT

Bangkok - All drones will be prohibited from flying within a 19-kilometer radius of the ceremonial grounds of the royal cremation ceremony for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej during the period 25-29 October.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) announced the prohibition of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones from the Royal Palace and Sanam Luang ground, which is the location of the royal cremation ceremony for the late monarch.

CAAT Director Chula Sukmanop said the ban is designed to ensure orderliness and security during the royal ceremony. However, camera drones which belong to the organizational committee for the ceremony will be an exception.

Those who violate the restriction will be faced with a maximum of one year in prison or a 40,000 baht fine, or both.  Military officers are authorized by law to destroy any flying drones.


Welfare card use remains vibrant despite card-reader hiccup

NNT

Khon Kaen - While use of welfare cards, which are issued to low income earners by the government, was widespread on the second day of their validity, some locations reported long lines caused by a shortage of card scanners.

However, in Khon Kaen province, officials from the Ministry of Finance inspected use of the cards in Baan Fang district and found the system working smoothly. The province is home to 84 shops equipped to accept the cards.

In Chaiyaphum province, many users were seen maxing out their cards and saying that the cards helped them to live within their means. The province noted some issues with card readers which resulted in some delays. Krung Thai Bank has urged vendors to pick up more scanners to improve the situation.

At SR Super-Mart in Petchabun, there was a large turnout of people using the entire 200 to 300 baht welfare card budget as they bought up much of the department store's supplies. All buyers said they were very happy with the system and urged the establishment of more Blue Flag Shops.

Similarly, in Rayong province, shops reported a shortage of card readers. Currently, only 34 out of a total 122 welfare support shops are equipped with the machines.

At Surat Thani’s Agricultural Cooperative, which has only one card scanner, there was a long line of shoppers queuing to buy goods like rice, vegetable oil and detergent.


Tourist Police stepping up efforts to crackdown on illegal tours

NNT

Bangkok - The Tourist Police is stepping up its efforts to ensure safety for tourists and to crackdown on illegal tours in a bid to enhance the country's tourism standards.

Acting Commissioner of the Tourist Police Division, Pol Lt Gen Sakhon Thongmunee on Tuesday chaired a meeting with government and private tourism and hospitality agencies to deliver his policy address on ensuring safety and boosting credibility.

He called on related agencies to crackdown on banned industries such as zero-value tours in order to ensure sustainable revenue for the country. The campaign will kick off in Chiang Mai and Phuket.

The Tourism Police Headquarters has expanded its personnel from 1,000 to 4,000 officers and is divided into four departments designed to crackdown on illegal activities in various regions. All departments will report to the Tourist Police Commissioner and his two deputies.


Update October 3, 2017

Trump hails stronger Thailand ties as he meets PM Prayuth

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, and his wife Naraporn Chan-ocha, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, as they arrive at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

By Matthew Pnnington, Associated Press

Washington (AP) — Making no reference to Thailand's military rule, President Donald Trump on Monday hailed strengthening relations with America's oldest ally in Asia as he welcomed a junta leader who took power in a coup.

Prayuth and his wife, Naraporn Chan-ocha, were greeted at the South Portico by Trump and first lady Melania Trump as the Thai leader arrived for talks and a working lunch.

President Donald Trump listens as Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

"We've had a long and very storied history with Thailand," Trump said in the Oval Office alongside Prayuth, referring to a nearly two-century diplomatic relationship, which the president said has advanced since he took office in January.

"So we have a very strong relationship right now, as of this moment, and it's getting stronger in the last nine months," he said, stressing the importance of trade ties, which totaled $40 billion last year, with the U.S. running a $19 billion deficit. "I think we're going to try and sell a little bit more to you now, make that a little bit better if that's possible."

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as his wife Naraporn Chan-ocha, left, and first lady Melania Trump watch during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Prayuth said visiting Trump was a great opportunity for his government and the Thai people. He expressed optimism about strengthening cooperation, including in defense and security "to help ensure that our citizens are safeguarded from terrorism and other threats." He also said the two nations would work closely on "regional issues of concern."

"I am confident that with the president's leadership we will be able to tackle all those problems," he said. 

After the coup, the United States under President Barack Obama stopped military assistance and training programs — a largely symbolic step but one that went down badly with Bangkok, a U.S. treaty ally that has moved closer to China as relations with Washington have strained. Under Trump, the U.S. has looked to resume high-level ties and authorize more arms sales.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A U.S. National Security Council spokesman, who was not authorized to speak publicly on planning for the visit and requested anonymity, said the U.S. will continue to urge Thailand to return to participatory democracy and restore civil liberties. He declined to say whether those points would be raised by Trump, but said the president could discuss how to strengthen U.S.-Thai relations.

Trump has barreled through criticism about outreach to authoritarian foreign leaders as he looks to shore up America's long-standing alliances.

Walter Lohman at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation said if Trump did raise democracy with Prayuth it would be behind the scenes, which he argued would be most effective with a country sensitive to foreign criticism. 

"We need to be concerned about human rights and democracy, but it can't dictate our relationships with our allies," Lohman said.


Welfare card program hindered by lack of EDC machines

Permanent Secretary for Finance, Somchai Sujjapongse.

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Finance has revealed that many welfare cardholders have been unable to use their cards, as most qualifying vendors do not yet accept card payments.

Permanent Secretary for Finance, Somchai Sujjapongse revealed that on the program's inaugural day, October 1, cardholders purchased over 300,000 items valued at over 90 million baht. However, major obstacles experienced by cardholders included not knowing where local vendors were situated and many vendors not having electronic data capture (EDC) machines to process the transactions.

Somchai said his ministry will discuss with the Ministry of Commerce and related agencies ways to resolve the issues and will propose to the National E-payment Committee a raffle for a one million baht prize, to encourage card usage.

In Uthai Thani province meanwhile, the program was well received by local cardholders. However, many vendors were unable to process card payments, as officials have yet to install EDC machines.

In Bueng Kan province, 152 stores across eight districts participated in the program, but only 14 of the stores currently have EDC machines.

In Yala Province, residents are able to use their cards to receive a 500 baht discount on third-class railway tickets. Meanwhile, 14 stores across eight districts are able at present to process card payments.


Police examine evidence in search for former PM Yingluck

NNT

Bangkok - Police are stepping up efforts to verify data including DNA samples as part of an investigation into the escape route of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Commander of the Central Police Forensic Science Division Pol Maj Gen Tawatchai Mekprasertsuk indicated on Monday that police are still collecting evidence, processing DNA and analyzing fingerprints collected from the home of ex-premier Yingluck. The DNA samples are to be compared with samples found in a Toyota Camry driven by Pol Col Chairit Anurit, who has confessed to driving Yingluck to the Thai border. Pol Maj Gen Tawatchai noted there is a large volume of information to be processed and the effort will take several days.

Addressing questions as to why police don't use existing DNA records of the former PM, Pol Maj Gen Tawatchai explained that new samples are more accurate and make for a stronger case.

Deputy Commander of the Royal Thai Police Pol Maj Gen Sriwara Rangsiphramnakul meanwhile says his office has forwarded a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, calling for it to confirm Yingluck’s current whereabouts, cancel her passports and coordinate with international police for her arrest.


MOL working to stop visa violations in South Korea

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Labor has ordered stringent control of Thai workers attempting to illegally find employment in South Korea, so far stopping over 700.

Minister of Labor, Gen Sirichai Distakul, said he has instructed his office’s agents to closely vet people traveling from Suvarnabhumi Airport to South Korea, specifically looking for indications that they may attempt to find employment while on a tourist visa. The Minister says the 700 people denied entry were mostly traveling as members of supposed tour groups.

The Minister reiterated warnings from the Department of Employment against falling for advertisements offering work in South Korea as Thais wishing to travel to the country to work as laborers must first seek employment via the Employment Permit System (EPS).

He warned that if arrested for illegally working in South Korea, the Thai individual would be heavily fined and black listed by the country, stressing that such a development would be detrimental to the Kingdom’s image. Those who wish to work in the country are urged to contact the ministry at 1694 to follow the approved procedure.


Volunteers combine forces to clean up Rattanakosin Island

NNT

Bangkok - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has dispatched volunteers to clean up Rattanakosin Island in tribute to HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

More than 1,500 participants, including palace officials, military and police officers as well as members of the general public joined forces to give a facelift to the historic quarter of Phra Nakhon district.

The volunteers have now planted trees along both sides of Khlong Lod canals, painted the walls of Wat Mahathat, trimmed the trees and tidied up the roads around the BMA City Hall.

The activity was aimed at encouraging a sense of social service and selflessness in all groups of people as well as allowing them to pay tribute to the late monarch.


Update October 2, 2017

Welfare cards now usable nationwide

 

NNT

Bangkok - Welfare cards have become usable nationwide now that some five million eligible low-income earners in 70 provinces have already picked up their welfare benefits.

Comptroller General's Department (CGD) spokesperson Oranuch Wainusit said that 1 October was the first day that welfare card holders under a state welfare program are able to use their card.

Welfare cards can initially be used to buy products at over 4,200 Commerce Ministry’s Blue Flag stores nationwide. Those who earn no more than 30,000 per year will receive a purchase limit of 300 baht per month and those whose annual income is from 30,001-100,000 baht will have a balance of 200 baht per month. For public transport, including both trains and buses, the welfare card holders will receive a monthly balance of 500 baht.

Currently, around 50 percent or five million of eligible low-income earners have already picked up their welfare cards in the 70 pilot provinces.


PM Prayut to meet President Trump this week

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has traveled to the United States at the invitation of President Donald Trump.

President Trump issued the invitation during a telephone talk with the Thai Premier on April 30 this year.  Gen Prayut left Thailand on Saturday and will be back on October 5.

During the meeting, the leaders will discuss a wide range of topics including security, trade and investment. They will also touch on important issues and events happening around the world.

In addition, Gen Prayut will meet with representatives of the US-ASEAN Business Council and American investors.

Those accompanying the Thai prime minister are DPM Somkid Jatusripitak, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn, and Deputy Defense Minister Gen Udomdej Sitabutr.

The United States and Thailand established relations in 1818 and signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833, formalizing diplomatic relations. The United States' links with Thailand go beyond a bilateral relationship to have an impact on the broader region. The partnership spans the areas of public health, trade, science and technology, wildlife trafficking, education, cultural exchange, law enforcement, and security cooperation.


Phuket seeks to ensure beach safety

Western tourists soak up the sun on Kata Beach, Phuket. (AP Photo)

NNT

Phuket - The Governor of Phuket province has chaired a meeting of administrative and security agencies to discuss beach safety measures.

The meeting was held to seek an interim accident prevention plan for beach-goers, as the lifeguard service contract, which was co-signed by the contractor and the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization, expired on 30 September.

Governor Norapat Plodthong disclosed to attendees at the meeting that relevant agencies, including the Phuket Internal Security Office, Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization, Phuket Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office and hotels had agreed to put their lifeguards on duty at different beaches in the districts of Mueang Phuket, Kathu and Thalang.

Governor Norapat said the joint beach safety teams would remain stationed at all beaches, and surveillance would be particularly close at frequently-visited spots. The agencies in charge are preparing to map out a long-term beach safety management plan.

In the meantime, a two-month contract announcement has been made to recruit lifeguards. The number of applicants has already reached 40 percent of the employment quota. Successful candidates will be offered a monthly salary of 14,000 baht each. The Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization will try to process the employment contract as soon as possible.


DPM Prawit: Election date cannot be determined until organic laws are enforced

NNT

Bangkok - Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan says an election date will be announced once all organic acts have been promulgated in the Royal Gazette.

In reply to the Pheu Thai Party’s call for the government and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to make their stance on the general election clear, DPM and Minister for Defense Gen Prawit confirmed that the election will take place according to the timeframe stipulated in the reform roadmap.

Gen Prawit said the exact date for the next election cannot be determined until all 10 organic laws have been enacted. Once the organic acts are published in the Royal Gazette, the electoral body will be required to stage an election within 150 days.

He then stated that the current administration has no plan to stay in power as it’s committed to returning democracy to the nation.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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Back to Main Page

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Nation marks 1 year since king's death with prayers, ceremony

Bhutanese King, Queen to attend royal cremation

Exhibition after the Royal Cremation Ceremony to be held 2-30 Nov.

Flooding still rampant in north and central regions


Air Force to set up anti-drone stations during royal funeral

Home of former Buddhism Office director searched after suspected of graft

Lopburi flood gate bursts as deluge continues across country

Interpol requests information to draft Blue Notice for ex-premier


Custom officers seize rhino horns, arrests suspected smugglers

Uthai Thani launches aerial surveillance over encroached wildlife sanctuary

Thai private sector starts using biometric authentication system

Villagers protest mining concession over health concerns


PM promises elections in late 2018

Government spokesman says water management effective

Land transport dept plans to give all bus terminals major facelift

Thailand lauded for being Asia's best in non-communicable disease control


PM satisfied with elimination of zero-dollar tours

85-year old man faces prison for doubting ancient king story

NLA hears complaints from sea gypsies of Phuket

Employers warned not to hire migrant workers as shop attendants

Inmates moved to new Chonburi Central Prison


Ayutthaya braces itself for more floods amid torrential rain

CDC believes lawmakers won't delay election

Red flag for Thailand's aviation industry removed from ICAO website?

Gem and Jewelry Institute to push Thailand as trade hub by 2021


New warrant issued for ex-PM Yingluck

DPM confident laws needed for general election to be drafted by year's end

Largest dinosaur fossil yet found in Chaiyaphum

Floods persist in central provinces


Mourners pay last-minute respects to HM the late King

PM receives US Senate Resolution honoring the late King

Welfare cardholders warned not to redeem their cards for cash

VAT remains at 7% for one more year

Police target 29 suspected ‘zero dollar tour’ companies


Police seek Interpol red notice for arrest of Yingluck

Thailand ready for influx of Chinese tourists during Golden Week

Panthongtae’s attourney submits letter to DSI: Seeks end to money laundering case

Documented Cambodian workers return to Thailand


DNA samples to reveal if Yingluck fled country in a car

Drones to be prohibited during royal cremation ceremony

Welfare card use remains vibrant despite card-reader hiccup

Tourist Police stepping up efforts to crackdown on illegal tours


Trump hails stronger Thailand ties as he meets PM Prayuth

Welfare card program hindered by lack of EDC machines

Police examine evidence in search for former PM Yingluck

MOL working to stop visa violations in South Korea

Volunteers combine forces to clean up Rattanakosin Island


Welfare cards now usable nationwide

PM Prayut to meet President Trump this week

Phuket seeks to ensure beach safety

DPM Prawit: Election date cannot be determined until organic laws are enforced

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